KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are 10 weeks until the 2021 NFL draft, and in order to prepare for this year’s draft, FOX4 Sports is doing something a little different.
Producer Robert Rimpson is counting down Brett Veach’s top 10 draft picks as the Chiefs’ general manager. While the sample is limited to three drafts and 18 picks, this will hopefully not only provide an informative perspective on some of Veach’s best picks, but it may also give a good look at what the Chiefs do in this year’s draft.
The players are evaluated in three areas: Their play on the field, how high their remaining potential is, and their value based on where they (and other players in their class) were drafted. The players get letter grades (‘A+’ being the best, ‘F-‘ being the worst) and at the end he reflects on how the player will impact the Chiefs 2021 draft.
#10: Armani Watts – 2018 4th rounder, pick 124
Play on field
Armani Watts has been a staple on special teams for the Chiefs since he was picked, and has provided depth at the safety position at times.
In the 2020 season, Watts played in all 16 games and lead the Chiefs in snaps on special teams with 356 total snaps, 81% of the special teams snaps that season.
In contrast, Watts rarely sees the field on defense. He has recorded only 237 defensive snaps in his career, and only has two sacks, two pass deflections and a couple of tackles for loss to show for it.
He has played in all 38 games (including playoffs) since an injury landed him on the injured reserve list his rookie season, so he has been a reliable source of depth for the team.
Watts turns 25 years old this year and it’s hard to say whether a player so young has already hit their peak. With that being said, in the few opportunities Watts has seen on defense, he’s rarely stood out or made plays that make you think he’s getting better over time or deserves more reps.
At his best, Watts still has a chance to earn a spot as a backup in the Chiefs safety rotation. At his worst, he’s still a key part of the Chiefs’ special teams.
Watts was drafted in the 4th round in 2018, 124th overall. Being picked in the mid-level rounds doesn’t come with the highest of expectations, but it’s fair to say people still expected more out of him.
When the franchise picked him, a lot of fans were excited by his highlight reel from Texas A&M. He looked like a hard-hitting safety who was willing to take risks to make plays, which the Chiefs desperately needed with the loss of Eric Berry to injury.
Unfortunately, he was placed on the IR in week 6 of his rookie season, and hasn’t had a real shot at being a starter since then.
Fans may have been slightly disappointed in Watts, but there weren’t many other great options for the Chiefs at safety at the spot Watts was picked. Tre Flowers, who has been a solid player for the Seattle Seahawks, was picked in the 5th round, but other than there weren’t any great options for the Chiefs not only at safety, but at any other defensive position.
It was a battle between Watts and Dorian O’Daniel for the 10th spot on this list. While it could be argued that O’Daniel is a better special teams player and possibly has more potential, Watts has seen the field more on special teams and defense since 2018, and being picked 24 spots after O’Daniel makes him a better value.
His relatively low ceiling keeps Watts from going any higher on this list though, and while I wouldn’t call him a bust, he’s far from being a home run or even a steal in his draft class.
For all the reasons listed above, Watts gets a “C-”
How will this affect 2021?
Watts is a serviceable player for the Chiefs, but hasn’t proven himself to be the answer to the Chiefs’ depth problem in the secondary.
I think the Chiefs have given Watts plenty of time to solidify his spot on the team, and since that spot seems to be mainly on special teams, I fully expect the Chiefs to draft a safety in the mid-to-low rounds to help their rotation.